My Back Burner List

Posted: November 15, 2010 in The Roper Files


It started last year when I came back from vacation; this nagging feeling that clawed at the back screen door of my subconscious like a persistent cat. Wrote it off as a side effect of the usual depression and melancholy that always seems to go along with returning from some exotic location to my podunk hometown. But it occurred to me that I had been scrimping and saving for my vacation at the cost of blowing off things I needed to be spending money on.

 It had been years since I’ve gotten new glasses. Hadn’t seen a dentist in awhile. Oh and my so-called annual check-up? Time for THAT again? And aside from actually making the dentist appointment for the cleaning I blew off the other stuff.

Another year went by…the teeth got cleaned but I failed to make the follow-up appointment for some reason in January. Excuses; jeez they’re so easy to come up with. And besides I had priorities. Like saving up for my next vacation. Bills and rent eat up most of what I make and I started saving up for my next vacation by tossing change and an occasional bill into a jar in a closet.

 So in August I went on another vacation, had a great time for two heavenly weeks and then like a meteorite I plummeted back to my hometown to hundred degree heat, no “K” , no Tim Hortons coffee except for the one 12-ounce bag I brought back, a mailbox full of bills, rent to pay and a pile of work waiting for me at my job that I would later spend the next two months working over-time to catch up on. After a miserable 20-hour 4000-mile trek home I had to get up the next day, drive across town to get my paycheck from the week before, then drive across town to the bank. Transfer my check to three money orders: one for rent, one for AT&T and one for ADT. Everyone has their hand out on my arrival home it seems; paid all the current bills before I left. My entire check is gone in just a few swipes of a pen. Welcome home. Drive home from the bank and post office depressed.

 And just like last year I came home to a long list of things I’ve been either ignoring or just plain putting off. Twelve months later I still needed new glasses. My teeth need to be cleaned again. My truck is long overdue for an oil change; I need a haircut. And oh yeah there’s that damn check-up physical I’ve been putting off. So this year was going to be different; I decided to actually go down the list and take care of all of these things.

When I reported back to work the next week I took time to get on the phone and make appointments with the dentist and the doctor both. I stop on the way home and get the oil changed. I get my hair trimmed. Start shopping the newspaper ads for new glasses.

 One by one I not only take care of these things over the next two months but I pay off the hundreds of dollars I put on the credit card while I was on vacation in the next thirty days. My teeth are X-rayed, scraped and cleaned; another follow-up appointment is made. And for the first time in years I finally break down and get new glasses. All of this cost me virtually every penny of the over-time I am working but I feel proud of myself. I’m Taking Care Of Business. Of course I save the best for last; that damn physical.

Swaggered into the physicians office with my best Lets-Get-This- Over- With attitude. Poke me with your needles; stick that finger into my nether zone. I can take it. The physical goes as expected for the most part; later I am told I am in good physical shape. As I am getting dressed the doctor drops it on me. I need to come back for a colon screening. Say what? He explains to me that it’s standard procedure for men over fifty; I’m fifty-two and have never had one so it’s my turn, plain and simple.


  Oh the little chicken cried and the little chicken begged….

First I tried logic and reasoning: “Come on; do I HAVE to?”

No sale. He hands me a list of things I need to buy at the drugstore: laxatives and a bottle of Magnesium Citrate. Needless to say the initial burst of pride I felt about Getting Things Done starts turning into more of a feeling of What Have I Gotten Into. And oh yeah; what if he FINDS something? I don’t feel sick but now I’m feeling ill about getting this damn physical. WHY did I have to go through with that one? Why wasn’t I satisfied with the new glasses and teeth cleaning?

 The appointment is made for November fifteenth; I pretend it isn’t happening until the thirteenth when I have to go to the local pharmacy and purchase the items on the list. My discomfort grows when the only person I can find to assist me at the pharmacy is a young girl who thankfully seems unfazed at the inventory on my shopping list and in true professional manner helps me find everything.

Then I start reading the preparatory instructions and getting really uneasy. No food for 36 hours? No coffee? No aspirin or any other medications? There’s no way I’m going to survive a weekend without my usual Sunday morning breakfast of coffee, eggs, bacon, hash browns and more coffee.

 The appointment is for Monday morning, so Saturday I eat as much as I possibly can. Fish and chips for lunch and Saturday night I pack down as much spaghetti, salad and garlic bread as I can, followed by a pint of Dutch Chocolate Blue Bell and a couple of candy bars. Wash it all down with a couple of vitamins and a glass of chocolate Instant Breakfast. My head hits the pillow content and I drift off to sleep almost instantly.

 Sunday morning I wake up freezing cold; it’s 40-something outside and I didn’t turn on the heat before I went to bed. I want coffee but cant have it so I fix a cup of orange Tazo tea instead. Brrrr.

Despite the huge meal I had the night before, I am hungry. Start thinking about scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and pancakes at Summers Diner on Jacksboro Highway. Damn that sounds good. I can hear the food sizzling on the grill on the other side of the wall; I can hear the tinny country music on the radio on the wall. I can feel the duct tape on the ripped leatherette seats under my ass if I think about it hard enough.

Damn! Gotta think about something else. Can’t watch TV because I know the food commercials will drive me crazy. I’ve also woke up with a splitting headache; it feels like a razor-thin paper-cut that starts at my eyebrows and works its way back to the back of my head. Since I can’t take medications the only escape I can find is to go back to sleep. Lay on the futon and think about what a horrible way this is to spend a day off. Turn off all the lights and wrap up in a wool blanket; I drift off to sleep depressed.


Soon I’m floating happy and care-free on a cream-gravy river on a breaded-steak raft. Sailing the cream-gravy river with my rapping runaway-slave friend MC N-word Jim ….

Wake up in a sweat; what time is it? The phone is ringing; it’s my Mom wanting to know how I’m doing. Just a little after noon; only got 24 hours now. I still have a splitting headache. Tell Mom I’m doing fine, hang up and go back to sleep. An hour later the phone rings again; it’s “K”

She reminds me I was supposed to drink the Magnesium Citrate at noon; I’m an hour behind schedule. Reluctantly I open the bottle. “Grape-flavored” the fizzy concoction tastes like liquid Alka-Seltzer and goes down just as smooth. It tries to fizz, bubble and crawl back up my throat. Then I wait for it to start working. It said “30 minutes to six hours” on the label; I sit upwards for an hour or so waiting for it to work then fall asleep.

 About four or five hours later I wake up on the futon with my stomach cramping. Oh shit I was supposed to take three laxative pills at three; it’s almost six now. At least my headache is gone. Unwrap the pills, wash them down. Wake up and a bit and then realize the Magnesium Citrate is starting to work. The next six hours is best not discussed. Sometime after midnight I get back to sleep.

 Monday morning I wake up so hungry breakfast at McDonald’s is starting to sound good. Sleep as late as I can but I wake up about six tossing and turning. I want coffee. I want breakfast too and bad but I cant have either one. Lay in bed and stare at the ceiling.

 Six hours later the exam is finished; I walk out of the doctors office with both the knowledge I don’t have cancer and a burning desire for a steak lunch. I walk to the Cafe down the street and devour a chicken-fried steak, spinach, butter beans and mashed potatoes in record time, then go home and sleep it off with a four hour nap. Wake up and look in the mirror.

 Damn I need another haircut…


Comments are closed.